In recent years I have heard many who remark that Thanksgiving has been forgotten. Stores go from marketing Halloween to marketing Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is ever present at my house but we always pause to make Thanksgiving special. President George Washington made a proclamation to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving. Eventually it became institutionalized as a national holiday known as “Thanksgiving.” What is Thanksgiving? “Turkey Day”—good food and lots of it—family day—time to be together—football and parades; or is it more than family, food, football, and festivities?

Thanksgiving demands a recipient. If we are thankful, to whom are we thankful? As believers in Jesus we know to turn our attention to the one who provides for our needs. The Bible says in Philippians 4:19, “My God shall supply all of your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Thanksgiving is gratitude toward someone who has provided all things for us.

Thanksgiving is more about peace than prosperity. It is so easy to get caught up in the routine of being thankful for God’s provisions. Truly, God has blessed us materially; the poorest people I know in America are rich compared to most countries. But, my “Thanksgiving” should not be caught up in my prosperity rather than in God’s peace. “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7).

Thanksgiving is more about satisfaction than success. We get caught up in achievement. There is nothing wrong with aspiring to accomplish good and serve God in this life. However, to be driven by unbridled devotion to good things at the expense of the best is empty. What about the godly baseball player who strikes out with the bases loaded? What about the pastor who labors in obscurity with little earthly appreciation or the committed believer who struggles in his business concerns? Can they be thankful? Our satisfaction comes from being in the center of God’s will not the ladders we climb to get to the top. Paul spoke of his satisfaction in following God’s leadership, Philippians 4:11.

The Bible shows that thanksgiving is more attitude than action. Thanksgiving is giving praise to God by looking to the source of all blessings. It is giving beyond ourselves to the needs of others. Have you thanked God for most important blessing, his Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Family, food and football are things we enjoy around the Thanksgiving holiday. This Thanksgiving let’s focus on the One who is the blessing!

Executive Director Emeritus
Jim Richards
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
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